Blake seeks to provide the Golden String which can lead us through the labyrinth of our experience or his own poetry.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Illustration of Robert Blair's The Grave (1808), painted by William Blake and engraved by Luigi Schiavonetti.
I've tried to discern what Blake is saying psychologically in this passage about Jerusalem. It seems he is describing the awakening of an archetype from the unconscious. The idea of Jerusalem existed in a mind which was unified, in which there was no duality, in which the contraries were equally true. Blake is describing his vision of Eternity or of the unconscious when he talks of 'sports of intellect', 'Thunder in the midst of kindness', 'love that kills', death 'for a period.'
Jerusalem, Plate 48, (E 196)
"Beneath the bottoms of the Graves, which is Earths central joint,
There is a place where Contrarieties are equally true:
(To protect from the Giant blows in the sports of intellect,
Thunder in the midst of kindness, & love that kills its beloved:
Because Death is for a period, and they renew tenfold.)
From this sweet Place Maternal Love awoke Jerusalem
With pangs she forsook Beulah's pleasant lovely shadowy Universe
Where no dispute can come; created for those who Sleep.
Weeping was in all Beulah, and all the Daughters of Beulah
Wept for their Sister the Daughter of Albion, Jerusalem:
When out of Beulah the Emanation of the Sleeper descended
With solemn mourning out of Beulahs moony shades and hills:
Within the Human Heart, whose Gates closed with solemn sound.
And this the manner of the terrible Separation
The Emanations of the grievously afflicted Friends of Albion
Concenter in one Female form an Aged pensive Woman.
Astonish'd! lovely! embracing the sublime shade: the Daughters of Beulah
Beheld her with wonder! With awful hands she took
A Moment of Time, drawing it out with many tears & afflictions
And many sorrows: oblique across the Atlantic Vale
Which is the Vale of Rephaim dreadful from East to West,
Where the Human Harvest waves abundant in the beams of Eden
Into a Rainbow of jewels and gold, a mild Reflection from
Albions dread Tomb. Eight thousand and five hundred years
In its extension. Every two hundred years has a door to Eden
She also took an Atom of Space, with dire pain opening it a Center
Into Beulah: trembling the Daughters of Beulah dried
Her tears. she ardent embrac'd her sorrows. occupied in labours
Of sublime mercy in Rephaims Vale. Perusing Albions Tomb
She sat: she walk'd among the ornaments solemn mourning.
The Daughters attended her shudderings, wiping the death sweat
Los also saw her in his seventh Furnace, he also terrified
Saw the finger of God go forth upon his seventh Furnace:
Away from the Starry Wheels to prepare Jerusalem a place.
When with a dreadful groan the Emanation mild of Albion.
Burst from his bosom in the Tomb like a pale snowy cloud,
Female and lovely, struggling to put off the Human form
Writhing in pain. The Daughters of Beulah in kind arms reciev'd
Jerusalem: weeping over her among the Spaces of Erin,
In the Ends of Beulah, where the Dead wail night & day."
The awakening of Jerusalem is a way to express the differentiation of her archetype from the undifferentiated, fluid, malleable, expandable unconscious. The pangs she suffered as the 'forsook' the 'shadow Universe' are indicative of the struggle to bring content from the unconscious to the conscious mind. The gates of the unconscious closed behind her; passage between the two is restricted. Entering the conscious mind exposes the archetype to time and space which were unknown in the unconscious. Jerusalem whose character is developed as Unified Man's spiritual awareness is being given form: the Human Form. The conscious mind can now begin to understand the meaning of the archetype, how it functions, what it brings to the totality.
Los has a fond appreciation for Jerusalem which he expresses on Plate 86:
Jerusalem, PLATE 86, (E 244)
"I see thy Form O lovely mild Jerusalem, Wingd with Six Wings
In the opacous Bosom of the Sleeper, lovely Three-fold
In Head & Heart & Reins, three Universes of love & beauty
Thy forehead bright: Holiness to the Lord, with Gates of pearl
Reflects Eternity beneath thy azure wings of feathery down
Ribbd delicate & clothd with featherd gold & azure & purple
From thy white shoulders shadowing, purity in holiness!"